In this November 29, 2011 photo, Patrick Secakuku, who works with the Hopi schools, points to part of the ancient petroglyphs of Tutuveni near Tuba City, Arizona. The site, whose name means "newspaper rock," contains some 5,000 petroglyphs of Hopi clan symbols, the largest known collection of such symbols in the American Southwest.

Tribes Rally to Save Petroglyph Site


In 2010, the Hopi Tribe and Navajo Nation put their collective efforts into constructing a fence to protect Tutuveni (tu-TOO-veh-nee), a sacred site known as “newspaper rock” to the Hopi, from vandalism.

An Associated Press story reports that over the years random visitors have left various etchings at the site like: “Aaron Myrianna 07,” “The Victor 10-20-85,” “'Van.B,” “Ramon Albert,” “Ariz. Hy. Dept.” Even: “1969-Man Land on Moon.” Other symbols have been chiseled away or painted over.

The site has more than 5,000 Hopi clan symbols that were put there by Hopi groups passing through on their way to the Grand Canyon. Petroglpyhs date as far back as 1200 A.D. and depict historic Hopi tribal groups.

“They would stop at Tutuveni and camp there, and they would peck their clan symbols on those rocks to mark their participation in that pilgrimage. And they did this for four or five centuries at least,” Wes Bernardini, an archaeologist and professor at the University of Redlands who has been studying Tutuveni for years, told the AP. “When people from the same clan would visit the site, they would put their symbols next to the previous symbol that somebody had left earlier. There’s no other site that we know of like that, that shows these repeated visits.”

That’s why the Hopi and Navajo felt it so important to protect it. Even though the effort was difficult because the Hopi sacred site is located on land that is owned by the Navajo.

“It’s something that’s really unique and very special to the Hopi,” Ron Maldonado, supervisory archaeologist for the Navajo Nation, told the AP. “In my mind, it didn’t matter who it belonged to. It needed to be protected, and that was it.”

Today, the chain-link fence that surrounds the site has only a narrow opening for those visiting on foot, and hidden cameras monitor the site. Vandalism and litter has declined considerably since the protections were put in place.

This allows Hopi tribal members the opportunity to preserve their sacred site for generations to come. Patrick Secakuku, business manager at Hopi Junior Senior High School, recently visited the site for the first time.

“I’m really amazed. I didn’t realize there were this many,” he told the AP. “This tells you a lot of history about our tribe, our Hopi people, and for people to desecrate, vandalize…you’re losing a lot of rich culture, history. It’s sad. But how do you control it? You just wish that out of respect they’d leave them alone.”

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ppmickey's picture
Submitted by ppmickey on
I'm so glad Newspaper Rock is finally being protected. I have been concerned about many of the petroglyphs and pictographs in the southwest not being protected on rocks, canyon walls, and grieve for the loss of undiscovered ruins, artifacts and whatever was lost that future generations could have appreciated when the Colorado River was dammed, forming Lake Powell, or as I prefer calling it Lake Foul, in honor of Edward Abbey. Many sites in Utah, surrounding the Moab area, are left unprotected and idiot tourists, like with Newspaper Rock, have added their ridiculous names and dates to some of these ancient sites. It is sickening. I'm sure there are other sites in the southwest other than Utah that are unprotected as well. I've read that even National Parks where ancient ruins are have been defaced or had artifacts stolen. These places must be protected, some even from the persons payed to protect these places, sad to say. Perhaps Native Americans only should be the protectors being paid to protect these sites and other sites known by locals should warn tourists going through to take pictures, not touch and leave only footprints behind, packing out their garbage and leaving none behind. Maybe some day, the government or private industry will take an interest in funding to protect these artifacts. The time needed for it is now, if anyone out there is interested and cares enough about the Native American history, the first founders of America.

pstarr's picture
Submitted by pstarr on
What actions are planned by the tribes for the San Francisco Peaks?